About 20 000 people were expected to be evicted from farms in the Drakenstein municipality, said an official. File picture.
Cape Town - Drakenstein municipality, which comprises Wellington, Paarl, Gouda and Simondium, is preparing itself for large-scale farm evictions based on current court cases in which farmers are requesting eviction orders.

Carmen Louw from Women on Farms said an official from the municipality told them about the large-scale evictions during a meeting about evictions on farms.

“Lauren Waring, the official, said about 20 000 people were expected to be evicted from farms. The official said the best they could do was to offer the people who would be evicted material to build informal structures. And that they are preparing service sites for the 20 000 people. These informal structures are then built in informal settlements.

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“The evictions are for different reasons. What is currently also happening is that a lot of new legislation is being introduced by the government that benefit farm workers. Farmers are now demolishing farm houses and turning it into holiday cottages. People who were born on these farms get evicted and have to go and live in informal settlements. Farmworkers are evicted from farms on a daily basis. I know of a recent case where an entire family was evicted from a farm. For two weeks, they stayed on the pavement in front of the farm in the rain. They had nowhere else to go.”

However, the municipality, although confirming that Waring worked for the Drakenstein municipality, denied that she made the comments. Human rights commissioner Chris Nissen said millions of people had been evicted from farms since 1994.

“In the Cape Winelands area there are between 1 400 and 1 800 cases in court. It is really a concern because farm evictions are so inhumane. In Wellington, 35 families were removed from farms in 2016. It lead to 90% of children not going to school because of the evictions. It does not mean that all farmers are bad. Farmworkers are moving from houses to Wendy houses. It is terrible.”

Professor Ben Cousins from the Institute for Poverty Land and Agrarian Studies, said the Extension of Security of Tenure Act was supposed to protect farm workers: “When it comes to the laws around evictions, magistrates don’t understand the law.”

AgriSA Western Cape chief executive Carl Opperman said it was not aware of the large-scale evictions: “We are not aware of the evictions. There is a backlog in housing for farm workers.”

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Cape Argus